Sunday, October 24, 2004

The road to nowhere

Bill Steigerwald blasts Pennsylvania's management of its transportation systems, from roads to buses to taxis. I know from working with Bill, who is a friend, that he and I disagree over the value and necessity of public transportation--I think it is an important service, while he would prefer a return to privately run transit systems--but he gets a lot of things right in this well-written rant:

Our government-regulated taxi "market" is monopolized by a company that has been charging high fares, providing lousy service and discriminating against poor and blacks since the 1930s. Our beloved $1 billion-plus county-built airport, designed for one doomed tenant to monopolize, turned out to be too big.

Meanwhile, our government highway professionals have not merely made us world-renowned for potholes and lousy roads. They've given us no beltway around Pittsburgh, but we have an interstate cutting through Downtown.

We've got new tollways to the boondocks like Route 60. But we're still stuck with two-lane parkways and Route 28 jam-ups and bad signage and fewer synchronized traffic lights than Baghdad.

We've been victimized for generations by federal, state and local governments and their transportation gurus. Their mismanagement has probably done more long-term damage to the region's economic health than the collapse of the steel industry.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual I am not sure exactly who I agree or disagree with on this toppic. But I DO know that I have issues with it. I also DO know that there is something wrong with the way things are now. I am all for state control of it, but it is about time we start SEEING that state presence! Things are too lax and not a lot is being done for the people.

I recently wrote a post with my take on the local transportation issue ...

—your (un?)friendly neighborhood badinfluence

10:54 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

You raise some great points in your post, some that I have raised here. The Port Authority needs to re-examine its current route structure, and better marketing would be a great idea. They should be leasing space to coffee vendors at all major T stations, like Mt. Lebanon and Potamic, and also consider charging a higher fare to people who ride the T--unless you have a bus pass. Many of the people served by the T are affluent residents of South Hills suburbs, and the T sees its greatest usage during special events.

12:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one point Steigerwald didn't discuss was the inland port system. It's a pay-as-you-go plan, much like a turnpike, heavily capitalized at first with federal seed money (locks, dams, dredging, lane controls, USCG support, etc.) that nevertheless largely has recouped the costs through fees and licenses paid by those who use the system most -- commercial freight carriers.

No one hears about the Pittsburgh port system because it works so well. Throughout the year, millions of tons of vital cargo (coal, chemicals, consumer goods, food products, timber, steel, manufactured goods) travel through Pittsburgh on their way to markets around the world. Barge shipping is the cheapest form of transportation, and the life blood of it flows from our rivers.

As a quasi-Libertarian, perhaps you should make the argument for a similar private-public partnership for our roadways and skyways?

12:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the coffee vendor idea. Since you brought that up ... there is SO much advertising potential out there! Who paints thouse buses anyway? WHY do we let them look the way they do? I'd be the first on board with full screen advertisements covering the buses. At least for sure on the T. Maybe not on the buses for a visibility issue, but the T? Yeah ... that should be a rolling ad for something.

And inside the tunnels? Why not project ads on the walls? How many people roll through Pittsburgh's T tunnels daily?

Billboards on the busway?

Yeah. There's potential.


1:39 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

A lot of buses do have ads, but they all should have them.

2:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not looking for an arguement, but I know they have ads. I am talking in a bigger scale.

6:06 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

How about video monitors, like they have at some grocery stores now?

7:25 PM


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